One of the side effects of the modernization of urban centers is the increasing amount of time spent indoors at the places where we live and work, decreasing our exposure to sunlight and therefore pulling us further away from our natural biological rhythm. The amount of sunlight exposure has been shown to have a direct effect on our health, because serotonin and melatonin, the hormones that control our sleep cycles and mood, are regulated by the brain in reaction to light entering our eyes. In particular, the winter months when the hours of sunlight is smaller, we observe an increase in disrupted circadian rhythm conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD and weather-related mood conditions are curable by proper application of light therapy, but most people with the symptoms do not seek therapy and many do not complete therapy due to inconvenience. What if light therapy could be administered passively by architectural lighting design, particularly using natural sunlight? My thesis explores the opportunity for lighting design to address a very common health condition in a way that can be replicated and incorporated into many built environments, particularly in the dark spaces that are typical of underground concourse and passageways underneath office buildings. My proposed design for the Rockefeller Center concourse is an exercise to change the way light therapy is delivered, by bringing sunlight into the daily lives of people on a large scale via daylighting, to create the feeling of walking outside on a sunny day.
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